As Seen Through a Big Loss by the Ohio State Buckeyes
It happens—a bad day at the office, a bad meeting, a lost case. In football, you might lose 31-0 on a big stage, as the Ohio State Buckeyes just did. The game was miserable to watch (if you are a Buckeye fan). Losing stinks.
But it happens.
As we have discussed in the article titled, “Enjoy the Journey”, most teams and businesses will lose at least occasionally, and some of them will lose big. So how in the world do you get back up?
I would suggest wallowing in your sorrows, at least for a little bit. Seriously. Go binge-watch Netflix, read a book, listen to music, go be around positive people who care about you. Just don’t wallow too long. And then get back up, ready to go, knowing that the big loss may have just been a big win.
Yes, I am serious. Losing 31-0 may be exactly what you needed. Here’s why:
1.Failing Is Okay
We hear about this a lot in business and it is worth repeating; it’s okay to fail. All the great business people have failed; they get to be great because they keep trying again until they win. If you can’t stand to fail, you won’t take risks, and without taking risks, you can’t succeed. Sure, a massive failure hurts, but you live through it and you’ll learn it’s not the end of the world. It’s nothing to be afraid of.
2. Failure Is Educational
Of course you can learn from your mistakes, but there is another way that failure can teach you too. Think about a baby learning to walk; it is right at that moment of struggling to stay vertical and failing that new brain circuits form and larger muscles develop. A baby that never fell would never walk, either. You can’t learn if you don’t challenge yourself, and the greatest challenge is to push yourself beyond your limits—to fail. Play a team you can’t beat, work harder than you think you can, go for broke. Now, obviously, you don’t want to push too hard too often, but sometimes what looks like failure is just a very successful training exercise (just maybe one you didn’t expect!)
3. At Least You Tried
“At least I tried” may be small comfort at the moment of defeat, but getting out there and trying is important. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game, as they say, but how will you know that, if you always win? Failure is rarely total. Maybe you lost the game, but you played with skill and style. Maybe you didn’t close an important deal, but you treated the other person fairly and honestly. Of course, you can be fair and honest and win too, but it’s important to honor those other victories, the kind that don’t show up on the scoreboard, and sometimes that’s easier to do if you lose.
4. Failure Is Eye-Opening
Let’s take a look at a quote from one of the greatest Buckeyes of all time, Woody Hayes:
What an eye-opening experience a big loss is! This year, Ohio State—their offense had issues. Had they managed to keep the game close, they might never have thought about what they needed to change. Instead, they bottomed out and realized changes were needed. As it is, they have already moved on from one of their co-offensive coordinators, they have hired a new QB coach, and they have hired one of the best offensive minds in college football to be their new offensive coordinator. Talk about seeing the light!
5. You Can Get Back To Doing What You Do Best
Big losses often come when you get away from what you do best. Perhaps you let someone talk you into letting go of your unique style. Perhaps you’re trying something new because everyone else says it works. Whatever it is, it’s not working for you. You probably don’t even like it. A big, obvious failure is your opportunity to go back to doing things your way.
Now I would never tell you to go lose on purpose—honestly, that probably wouldn’t work, anyway (although there is an example where this did work and I will cover that in a future article). All of these advantages I’ve listed (except maybe number five) depend on you trying your best to win. I would also never tell you that a big loss guarantees subsequent success, as though your career were some kind of yo-yo. Will the Ohio State Buckeyes be national champions next year, because of their recent loss? I have no idea. What I can tell you is that you will fail, sooner or later, and you’ll probably fail big—and if you pick yourself back up and commit yourself to moving forward, you can use a big loss to your advantage—and turn it into a big win.
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